Asking customers 'can I help you sir?' or 'may I be of assistance madam?' is seen as 'well passé' according to BHS shop assistant Shaniqua Dolan. She says 'these days, like me personally, I feel like there's no one does that sir and madam stuff no more, we all like basically want customers in our shop to spend money and bugger off.'
She's supported in her pragmatic approach toward customers, by her colleagues who feel that any communication with them, is generally irritating and interferes with staff chat, texting and Starbucks breaks.
Convinced that many people are still not aware that shops are essentially doing us all a favour by letting us buy their stock, many retail outlets are actively curbing niceties in order to concentrate on faster and more efficient extraction of money. Staff are now trained in condescension techniques such as greeting customers with 'alright mate?' rather than 'good morning sir'.
By encouraging shop staff to look bored and to be as non-receptive as possible (alright there?) managers claim less time is wasted answering queries and complaints. Shopping then becomes a rapid 'in and out process', hopefully with money changing hands, before the customer exits at speed. To help this along, some west end venues are even adjusting main door ventilation so that a powerful draft actually propels customers out into the street, tube station style.